Click here to check the ultimate guide to learn how to leverage your PC and internet to make money online.
The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

The Pentagon’s Journalist-Vetting Program

For years, reporters who embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq have traded rumors that the embed office had a blacklist for journalists whose work was

Landon Morton
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Aug 27, 2009

For years, reporters who embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq have traded rumors that the embed office had a blacklist for journalists whose work was unflattering. It generally takes months to work out embeds, a process that involves the submission of clips from the outset. Sometimes embeds fall through, leading to cynical grumbling and arched eyebrows. But no one ever proved that such a thing existed, and the talk remained at the level of bar-stool venting.

Then on Monday, Stars and Stripes reported that the Pentagon contracted the Rendon Group — a public relations firm that had made millions from the CIA by “creat[ing] the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power” in the media, according to an award-winning Rolling Stone profile — to vet embed-seeking journalists for “positive,” “negative” or “neutral” coverage according to “mission objectives.” For any media organization that can’t afford the several thousand dollars every day for security and transportation in war zones — most of them, basically — that’s, uh, problematic. I’ve embedded in both Iraq and Afghanistan. There were many places in both countries where unembedded reporting by American journalists is a life-or-death gamble.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan told the paper that the only vetting that takes place isn’t for utility to the war effort but for responsibility. “If it’s accurate, that’s a successful news story, whether good or bad,” Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said. But today the paper quoted new documents from Rendon showing that not only does the vetting take place, but so does a discussion of strategies to manipulate reporters:

One reporter on the staff of one of America’s pre-eminent newspapers is rated in a Pentagon report as “neutral to positive” in his coverage of the U.S. military. Any negative stories he writes “could possibly be neutralized” by feeding him mitigating quotes from military officials.

Another reporter, from a TV station, provides coverage from a “subjective angle,” according to his Pentagon profile. Steering him toward covering “the positive work of a successful operation” could “result in favorable coverage.”

To some degree, it’s hard to get exercised by the fact that public-affairs officers try to sway journalists’ coverage. Shocking, I tell you! But denying that it occurs at all is bizarre, and the question becomes whether certain journalists are denied their embeds based on the effort. One Stars and Stripes reporter, Heath Druzen, was kicked out of an embed in Iraq earlier this year after Druzen didn’t highlight developments that the brigade he was with wanted highlighted.

Then there’s this clever bit of argumentative jujitsu:

In a statement e-mailed to Stars and Stripes, Rear Adm. Greg Smith, director of communications for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, wrote: “To imply journalists embedded with our forces only serve to highlight positive aspects of our mission slights the professional journalists who regularly embed with our forces and report what they experience, both good and bad.”

Somehow it doesn’t seem plausible to argue that Stars and Stripes is slandering its colleagues who make it past a questionable embed vetting process. Will Stars and Stripes, a paper available in most every dining hall in Iraq and Afghanistan, be denied further embeds?

*You can follow TWI on Twitter and Facebook. *

Landon Morton | Landon is a professional character coach, motivational speaker, and consultant who values commitment, service, and excellence. Landon brings to your company valuable insights gained from his battlefield experience as a decorated combat veteran, enabling you to unleash the untapped potential of your employees. He illustrates how the invaluable talent that each individual brings to your company will positively affect your mission through real-world examples.

Related

Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen

Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight

Source: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference) On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight

Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment

In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep

Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!

The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the

Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’

Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday

Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public

Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs

Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability

Rep. Pete Stark Won’t Dignify Constituent by, er, Micturating Upon His Leg

In the tradition of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark revealed at a recent town hall gathering that there are limits to what

Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan

Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com

Click here to check the ultimate guide to learn how to leverage your PC and internet to make money online.